Vultures in the Mayan World

Black vultures at Río de la Pasión (Dr. Nicholas M. Hellmuth)

The American black vulture, buzzard or black-headed vulture (Coragyps atratus) is the only species of the genera Coragyps. It is a scavenger, but also eats eggs and newborn animals. These birds find their food using their keen eyesight or by following other vultures that have a good sense of smell.

Read more

Eating an Inflorescence

Flowers in the Mayan Diet

Flowers in the Mayan Diet While in a hotel in Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, we were photographing a beautiful peace lily flower, of the Spathiphyllum genus. Our Q’eqchi’ translator immediately told us that this flower is edible. Our photo assistant also said that his family incorporated these flowers in their meals. He is from the Guatemala-Mexico border area in the […]

Read more

Flowers from the Árbol del Hermano Pedro

This species has been appreciated in Mesoamerica since pre-Hispanic times for its unique beauty and medicinal properties. Tea from the dried flowers are attributed various medicinal properties, mainly as a tranquilizer, analgesic and to control high blood pressure and heart disease. Scientists are investigating its antidepressant effect.

Read more

Edible Flowers in the Mayan Diet

The focus this month is on an edible flower from the tree referred to as muc in the Q’eqchi’ language; orejuela in local Spanish of Guatemala. The scientific name is Cymbopetalum penduliflorum (Donal) Bail. Family: Annonaceae. Flowers played a major role in Mayan culture, as sacred flowers, as perfume, as seasoning, as food and as medicine. The flower from the […]

Read more

Finding Virola guatemalensis

The search is on for ancient flavorings After four years of searching, we still have not been able to find seven of the flavors used by the Maya 1,000 years ago. For example, where is an actual orejuela tree (muc in K’ekchi Mayan)? Two years ago its leaves were common in the markets of Cobán, Alta Verapaz. Last month not […]

Read more

Flowering of the National Tree

The ceiba tree is the national tree of Guatemala and was the sacred World Tree of the Mayan civilization. There are two species of ceiba tree in Guatemala; Ceiba pentandra is the national tree. The primary feature of the ceiba tree that the Maya noticed and copied was the conical spines. It is known by most Mayanists that the decorative […]

Read more

Annona

A great way to improve your diet and health Many species of the family Annonaceae (custard-apple family), for example the soursop, cherimoya and sugar apple seeds, constitute significant sources of lipids, proteins and carbohydrates and can therefore be used in food and feed, and offer relevant antioxidant activity of phenolic compounds. The oil in the seeds are a good source […]

Read more

Birds in the Mayan civilization: The Owl

Pulsatrix perspicillata or spectacled owl, La Aurora Zoo, Guatemala (Photo by Sofía Monzón)

Written by. Dr.Nicholas M. Hellmuth, Daniela Da’Costa, Ilena García Birds have played an important part in the life and culture of ancient civilizations. Between A.D. 300 and A.D. 600, owls were occasionally featured in the murals and vase paintings of Teotihuacán, Mexico. Some owl eye rings are good replicas of the round “goggles” of the Teotihuacán deity Tlaloc. Mayan art, […]

Read more

Leaf-cutting Ants Like Flowers

While visiting the Petén, Alta Verapaz or the costa sur, you’ll most likely see leaf-cutting ant trails, which look like miniature highways running through a lawn. One aspect about leaf-cutting ants that is seldom written about is their propensity to carry flowers (rather than leaves). In the last three years I have found ants harvesting and carrying flowers about 90 […]

Read more

Monstera deliciosa

Split-leaf philodendron is a common beauty in Guatemala Monstera deliciosa is a common houseplant and a common gar-den plant throughout Guatemala. Most of my articles in the REVUE magazine have been about sacred plants and flowers that appear in Mayan myths and in ancient art of Guatemala. But this month I am writing about a plant that is not pictured […]

Read more

Flowers in Mayan Art

Flowers are part of Mayan decoration, outfits and rituals. Kings wear flowers in the headdress. In addition to being purely decorative, flowers have deep meaning in Mayan religion and folklore. Especially between the 3rd and 9th century AD, perhaps a dozen different flower species are depicted in Classic Mayan murals and in art on funerary ceramics. For many years I […]

Read more